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September 2013

Aetius’s Reports on Genital Warts

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, Alexandroupolis, Greece
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(9):1118. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5282

Genital warts were widely known in the ancient world. We investigate the relatively unknown reports of the Byzantine physician and medical writer Aetius of Amida (circa fifth century ad), presenting his own observations and methods, while reporting those of other physicians or authors.

Aetius describes 2 different types of genital warts: “condylomata” and “thymi.” He notes that condylomata are abnormal protrusions found in the anogenital area. They sometimes appear inflamed, and they are hard and painful. Sometimes they rupture because the parts where they exist are distended.1 Thymi, however, are reddish, hard, oblong, abnormal protrusions usually appearing in the anogenital area and sometimes bleeding. He mentions that there are 2 kinds of “thymi”: benign and malignant. The benign thymi are whitish, soft, lacking pain or redness, whereas malignant thymi are hard, large, and painful; have a vivid color; and become irritated when touched or when a medicament is applied.1

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